Radical Yemeni cleric calls for `murder of Americans`

US-Yemeni radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi has called for the killing of Americans "without hesitation" and accused Iran of trying to impose control over Sunnis in the Gulf, SITE monitors said on Monday.

Sanaa: US-Yemeni radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi has called for the killing of Americans "without hesitation" and accused Iran of trying to impose control over Sunnis in the Gulf, SITE monitors said on Monday.

"Do not consult anyone in killing Americans," Awlaqi said in a 23-minute video posted on jihadist websites, according to the US monitoring group.

"Killing the devil does not need any fatwa (religious edict)," he added.

"It`s either us or you," Awlaqi said, addressing Americans in the video, which first surfaced on October 23 when one minute of footage was posted on jihadist forums.

"America and Israel are controlling our ummah (nation) and soon Iran will interfere to get its share of the pie," he said.

"There is a US-Israeli struggle on one side and an Iranian on the other to impose their control on Sunni areas."

The Gulf`s "Sunni citizens" will be "the first victims" of Iran, said Awlaqi, speaking in Arabic from behind behind a desk and sporting a sheathed dagger in his belt.

He accused Iran of trying to "spread a deviant ideology in Yemen," referring to Shiism. Sanaa accuses Iran of supporting northern rebels of the Zaidi faith, a branch of Shiism. Iran denies the claim.

Awlaqi also criticised the Sanaa government`s position on southerners.

"Why does the government deal in this barbaric manner with ... those who are demanding their rights" in the south, he asked.

Yemen`s security forces have been battling a separatist movement in the south, which some Yemeni officials accuse of allying with al Qaeda. The movement denies the allegations.

Awlaqi also slammed Muslim scholars for their silence on the arrest of an Australian woman in Yemen for suspected links with al Qaeda.

"Why this silence" over the arrest of the Australian "sister," he asked.

The woman, Shylogh Giddens, a convert to Islam who was in Yemen to learn Arabic, was deported together with her two children on her release in June.

Awlaqi also hailed the "jihadis (holy fighters) in Somalia, who have shown their ability to run the country according to sharia (Islamic law)" and "the Taliban in Afghanistan, which inflict lessons to the world`s most powerful army," he said, in an obvious reference to the US military.

The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified.

The cleric, who was charged last Tuesday in Yemen over alleged ties with al Qaeda and incitement to kill foreigners, is wanted in the United States on terrorism charges.

Prosecutors on Tuesday told a Yemeni court specialising in terrorism cases that Awlaqi had for months corresponded with Hisham Mohammed Assem, a Yemeni accused of shooting dead French energy contractor Jacques Spagnolo near Sanaa last month, encouraging him to kill foreigners.

Assem has denied being influenced by Awlaqi and insists he killed Spagnolo over a personal feud.

The court, under mounting US pressure to fight al Qaeda after a foiled air cargo bomb plot, on Saturday ordered the arrest by any means of Awlaqi for alleged links to al Qaeda.

The Yemen-based branch of al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb plot and said it was also behind the September downing of an American cargo plane in Dubai, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

The cleric has not immediately been linked to the parcel bombs, but American officials have long accused him of instigating "terrorism" from Yemen, where he is believed to be hiding in a remote area of Shabwa.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and headquarters of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has been under intense pressure from Washington to hunt down Awlaqi.

US Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Adviser John Brennan has accused the cleric of having links with Major Nidal Hasan who is suspected of shooting dead 13 people at Fort Hood military base in Texas and of having had contact with Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to blow up a plane over the US on Christmas Day.

Bureau Report